cover image Love and Summer

Love and Summer

William Trevor, . . Viking, $25.95 (211pp) ISBN 978-0-670-02123-9

The tragic consequences of a woman’s lost honor and a family’s shame haunt several generations in Trevor’s masterful 14th novel. His prose precisely nuanced and restrained, Trevor depicts a society beginning to loosen itself from the Church’s implacable condemnation of sexual immorality. Years ago, Miss Connulty’s dragon of a mother forced her into lifelong atonement after she was abandoned by her lover. Now, in the mid-1950s, middle-aged and forever marked for spinsterhood in her small Irish town, she is intent on protecting Ellie Dillahan, the naïve young wife of an older farmer. A foundling raised by nuns, Ellie was sent to housekeep for the widowed farmer, and she is content until her dormant emotions are awakened by a charming but feckless bachelor, Florian Kilderry, who has plans to soon leave Ireland. Their affair is bittersweet, evoking Florian’s regretful knowledge that he will cause heartbreak and Ellie’s shy but urgent passion and culminating in a surprising resolution. Trevor renders the fictional town of Rathmoye with the precise detail of a photograph, while his portrait of its inhabitants is more subtle and painterly, suggesting their interwoven secrets, respectful traditions and stoic courtesy. (Sept.)